N.B.A. All-Stars Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade Host Annual Fund-Raiser in Converted Concert Arena

Planners behind Alonzo Mourning's Zo's Summer Groove five-day fund-raiser converted the Hard Rock Live arena into an after-hours lounge for the annual gala.

By D. Channing Muller July 13, 2009, 4:56 PM EDT

Planner Martha Velasquez transformed the arena into an after-hours lounge

Photo: Alexis Corchado for BizBash

Zo's Summer Groove Benefit Dinner
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Every summer for the past 13 years, former Miami Heat basketball player Alonzo Mourning and his teammate Dwyane Wade (who joined the event last year) host Zo’s Summer Groove, a five-day fund-raiser for the Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation. The event consists of a golf tournament, comedy show and concert, block party, all-star basketball game, and benefit dinner. The gala dinner for 980 guests took place at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood on Saturday night.

The charity hired independent event planner Martha Velasquez to convert the concert arena into an after-hours South Beach-style nightclub for the dinner, this year dubbed “Deco After Dark". “We thought of the Fontainebleau in the fifties with the Rat Pack performing and combined that resort feeling with jazz and blues to take people back [to that time],” said Grace Castro, director of events, marketing, and PR for Alonzo Mourning Charities.

Although last year's gala was held in a ballroom at the Intercontinental Hotel Miami, sponsorship by Seminole Hard Rock lead to a change in venue. “Hard Rock coming on board [as a sponsor] has really helped reduce our expenses,” said Castro. “They’re underwriting a lot of [the] events that are happening on their property.” The comedy show and concert hosted by Cedric the Entertainer took place at the property on Friday night.

Co-sponsored by Publix Supermarket, the event began with a two-hour cocktail reception in the lobby of the arena. Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Audrey Hepburn impersonators greeted guests and entertained on one of two stages. Velasquez used white, silver, and black with yellow accents inside the arena, which was uplit with soft amber and had four large chandeliers suspended from the rafters. Scenic decor reminiscent of the buildings in the Art Deco district accented the nearly 300-square-foot stage near the entrance to the arena.

After announcements and a welcome from Max Osceola, a leader of the Seminole Indian tribe, a video about the four finalists for the Publix Student of the Year Award played on the four 30- by 60-foot projection screens around the arena. Mourning, Wade, and vice president of Miami Publix super markets Bill Fauerbach presented both winners—the team couldn’t decide on one recipient—with $10,000 scholarships, $400 Publix gift cards, and a Dell laptop. The two other finalists also received laptops and $200 Publix gift cards.

The Hard Rock catered the three-course dinner, during which R&B singer Lalah Hathaway performed a song with 11 children involved in Mourning’s Overtown Youth Center Program. Actress Holly Robinson Pete, TNT sports analyst Kenny Smith, and former CBS4 meteorologist Bob Soper led the live auction of items like a behind-the-scenes tour of TNT's Inside the NBA and dinner with Mourning and Wade for eight people at Prime One Twelve in South Beach.

After the auction, which raised $230,000, the evening wrapped up around midnight with a final performance from Tropic Entertainment’s Libido Band.

Correction: Room Service Furniture and Event Rental provided the lounge furniture in the arena, not So Cool Events as was originaly reported.

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